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Afghanistan 6, U.s. 5, Nra 5, Algeria 5, Obama 4, Washington 4, Larry 3, Stockman 3, United States 3, Marco Rubio 3, Mali 3, Us 3, Underarm 2, Davos 2, The Nra 2, Newtown 2, Hastert 2, Reid 2, Harry Reid 2, Amman 2,
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  MSNBC    NOW With Alex Wagner    News/Business. Alex Wagner.  
   Forces driving the day's stories. New.  

    January 17, 2013
    9:00 - 10:00am PST  

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if at first you don't succeed, impeach, impeach again. it's thursday, january 17th, and this is "now." joining me today a panel imported from other places. politico senior white house reporter glen thrush, and msnbc contributor marie theresa tomar, meagan mccartel, and contributing editor of new york magazine benjamin wallace wells. an urgent piece of policy supported by a majority of americans sent to congress by the president and the republican response? >> what the president is propose issing problematic for a couple of reasons, but primarily because it doesn't work. >> senator marco rubio's instant opposition is not about raising taxes on the wealthy, like last
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year. nor is it about proposing to raise the tax cuts. this time the issue is gun safety, including universal background checks supported by nearly nine out of ten americans. the president, once again, is taking his message to the people. as did he with _#$40. >> i promise you the american people, your voices, made a difference on this debate zoosh as he did with _#my2k. >> if there's one thing that i have learned, when the american people speak loudly enough, lo and behold, congress listens. >> yesterday the white house launched _#now is the time. >> this will not happen unless the american people demand it. >> the president has a new website explaining the proposed laws. he penned an op ed in the connecticut post today, and he is planning to hit the road to sell his plan with speeches around the country. as the white house tries to engage the public, senate majority leader harry reid will try to engage the senate. in a statement yesterday reid wrote "i am committed to insuring that the senate will
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consider legislation that addresses gun violence and other aspects of violence in our society early this year." the success of the president's proposals, especially a ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines, rests largely in the hands of the upper chamber. dan gross, the president of the brady campaign, says nothing will happen in either chamber without public pressure. >> there's an extraordinary disconnect between what the american public wants, including gun owners and nra members, and what our elected officials are doing about it. it is going to be up to us, the american public, to close that disconnect. >> republicans seem intent on digging in their heels while president obama is back to the strategy of enlisting the american people to move policy. at least the deja vu is happening on both sides of the aisle. glen thrush, animal of washington, denizan of the beltway. actually -- >> not actually. >> as is usual, you have a really interesting piece in
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politico today talking about the breaking of the obama role. there was the breaking of the hastert rule. you say, and i will read to you your own words -- >> i love this part. >> this is the best sort of awkward, and also semi-embarrassing and charming part of the show. democrats have jokingly referred to what they call the obama rule enshrining the president's practice of not forcing legislative action on anything no matter how noble that can't pass both houses. he now appears willing to burn political capital by pressuring senate democrats to vote for a measure that is likely to die in the house. a symbolic gesture that sets the stage he hopes for more meaningful ones. i read that, and i thought am i depressed? you seem to suggest that there is failure built into these proposals, and that this is a -- >> this is something that the left has -- remember during the health care debate. obviously we talked about the public option. there has been a sense at
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various points that he backed off the tough fights because he knew he wasn't going to be able to turn a quick deal. the hallmark of his first term was racking up victories accelerated by rahm emanuel. >> never let any crisis go. >> we're in a completely different environment, and obama did pretty well working from the outside in on the fiscal cliff thing, and now the sense is he is nott going to win on the assault bans. he might do better on the magazines. he is quite likely to get some sort of victory in terms of the background checks. why not run this up the hill, get a yes or no vote and build in political capital for future fights. >> future fights on unrelated issues or -- >> on this issue, but also building up sort of this whole reagan-esque argument. the richard newstat book about this, about the power of the presidency, it was kind of bill clinton's bible. obama seems to be moving forwards that away from the deal cutting.
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>> maria theresa, glen is talking long game, but in terms of the short game, the playbook seems to be one that he has used a lot in the last couple of months/year, i'll say, which is vault over congress and take it to the people and make them move however incrementally. the question is do we think is that can happen? can he have that kind of win on gun control 1234. >> he did exactly what he should have done. obama care, he said i'm going to go to washington, i'm going to go to capitol hill and negotiates inside, and people will come with me. what he is saying is he is basically drawing a clear line in the sand. this is where i stand. the american people, i'm going to -- i'm going to speak to you directly, and i'm going to go ahead and volley it over to the senate and they'll pass it. this is not my doing. >> hopefully they'll introduce it to the floor of the senate. that in and of itself will be -- >> i think the fact that reid said he was luke warm to the response and didn't realize, wait a second, this is a bad pr
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move for me. i'm going to go towards the president and say, okay, we should actually discuss this. that actually made sure that there was something going on that he realized was bigger than -- >> maybe that's a sign of it not being necessarily d.o.a., right? the fact that harry reid feels some amount of pressure. i mean, maybe it's just the climt that we're in right now. or that at least he has to walk back the statements and release a statement that says i intend to introduce this or he doesn't actually say that but that it will come probably to the floor in, you knowing, early this year is better than, i don't know, can it really pass the house? right? >> there's a real underlying policy problem. there's 250, 300 million guns in the united states many of them semiautomatic handguns. there's 8.5 million people in
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the country that have consealed carry permits, you know. to push something that would really be dramatic is just a huge policy haul. i think reid's interest in trying to get something going has to do more with the something than the broader politics. >> i'm confused. it might have more to do with the something than the actual thing. >> yeah. with that kind of comparative modesty of the actual proposals. >> this is why we have you on the show because you draw phrases like comparative modesty. >> meagan, to go back to this sort of argument here i thought one of the most marked remarks is his reappropriation around the language of the constitution and our rights, and jill lawrence in a piece in the national journal points out that he appropriated -- he brought back to the democratic fold, if you will, the bill of rights.
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. he brought back the declaration of independence. that most fundamental set of rights to life, and liberty in the pursuit of happiness and gettysburg along with our freedom to live our lives as with will comes an obligation to allow others to do the same. >> it guests them go to talk about, and it gives people a way to kind of pull together around an issue and really get fired up about it. i have yet to see evidence that, for example, support for the estate tax was killed when it was reframed by the death tax. people didn't like it before. they don't like it now. >> i feel like with gun laws in particular the second amendment is the go-to argument. it is the banner under which the nra marches.
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>> i think it's enjoyable for people who felt like they're being bullied by the second amendment, and -- until obama went out and said you have a right to worship freely, i really don't. i tend to think that the people who -- >> i think that it does reframe it so that folks actually feel comfortable coming in, and actually supporting. what i mean by that is, like, nra members are actually overwhelmingly in support of a lot of the stuff with the president is doing, and by saying it actually gives them talking points to talk to their friends and family about it, and that's what they're trying to do. >> right. >> and if glen is right and we're moving towards a second term in which the president is going to be more forth rightly liberal and more principled, then this makes sense, right. this is re-establishing himself as a kind of icon of that kind of language, and it's -- he is
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matching the kind of -- the right at the level that it's always engaged this debate. in a visceral way like nothing else we've seen in the first four years that he had been in office, he didn't feel this way in the wake of the gabby giffords thing. that is clearly compelling him. there's a political consequence to that. he is a different guy when he talks about the newtown massacre. he connects with people in a way that he hasn't before. i have been to hundreds of rally that is this guy has had. i've watched him interviewed hundreds of times. you don't see him connecting with people, the broader american population in this way, when he is not talking about newtown. >> and when he tells stories as he did yesterday about grace that reminds him of what happened in newtown. for him to not see action through legislatively i think would be a huge personal failing for him in a really visceral
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way. >> the juxtaposition of the two pieces of paper, the constitution and the drawing of grace, but that was sort of the image that he was talking about. sort of the nra checklist and the second amendment versus this drawing by this kid. that's a powerful image for these people. >> you have to remember the second amendment is still there, and the supreme court cases on it are still there, and he doesn't have any power to change that. >> nor is he trying to change it. >> no, but that really limits the scope of what he can do. >> i don't think the president has ever said we're going to do these things and never going to have another newtown. i think constantly he has said shouldn't we be doing the best that we can be doing? shouldn't we try to have more effective gun safety laws? shouldn't we try to understand an interlinkage between violence in the media and violence in our cities and schools? >> i'm not faulting the president on either his
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messaging or his intent, but i think that sort of realistically when you look at things like the assault weapons ban, there's no evidence that the one that we had any impact. maybe it will do something different with it next time, but, many of the, the stuff that's within the kind of acceptable political and the constitutional policy scope is really small ball. the background checks are probably the biggest thing and the most likely thing to get done, but also the thing that had the most preexisting support even from gun owners and nra types. >> the nra has not been a fan of background checks, ben. >> there's another thing that's happening here, which is that there's a signalling that is going on where the president is trying to state legislators, to governors, local police departments that is politically urgent and important for people who agree with me to really push this stuff and not to write loopholes into state laws anymore, not to be looks about following up on domestic violence violators who have a
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complaint that they have a handgun. there's a signalling here that is he saying that we need to take this issue seriously the all levels and beyond the proximate effects i think that matters where are. i think it helps move the moment. >> at the state level we see what's happened in new york state. there are some incredibly broad gun control laws that have been put into place as of just a few days ago. we have emails from jim messina in our inboxes. the campaign part of this piece is not going anywhere. i will also say i do not know what will happen with an assault weapons ban. nancy lanza purchased the bushmaster rifle in 2010. that would be some evidence that perhaps maybe we should get bushmasters off. >> connecticut has its own -- >> nancy lanza purchased her -- if you go state by state, you're always going to be porous. if you had a national ban on the bushmaster rifle, she would not have had one in her house. we'll continue the conversation after the break.
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empassioned defenses or idealogical trolls? >> trolling is a key part of the conservative entertainment/media business model. these guys say stuff all the time that they do not intend to be persuasive. they're not trying to explain something or to bring people along to their way of thinking. they're just doing something to attract attention, and hopefully condemnation and outrage from the mainstream and particularly from liberals. they want to offend you. they seek to offend you. that is the point. >> we will sift through the language and search for a reason, if any actually exists, next on "now." ♪ i'd like to thank eating right, whole grain, multigrain cheerios! mom, are those my jeans? [ female announcer ] people who choose more whole grain tend to weigh less than those who don't.
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>> there are certain things in his executive order that -- in some ways they're even fascistic. >> god forbid someone breaks into your home, you better be a good shot because you have a seven bullet limit or you have broken the law. >> this human shield strategy is something that i have been tracking since the clinton administration. you got questions about cops and the constitution? the babies. the babies. >> the president's announcement yesterday has sparked all-out panic from the right wing, and a fundraising letter calling this the fight of the century, the executive vice president of the nra wrote it's not about protecting your children. it's not about stopping crime. it's about banning your guns, period. on wednesday florida congressman tre became the second republican house member to suggest the president's proposals on gun safety may be worthy of impeachme impeachment. >> he continues, could that build up to make a case for possible impeachment?
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>> all options should be on the table, undoubtedly. you know, it's just one of those times in our history where we're at this breaking point. >> clinton era conspiracy they'rist and texas republican steve stockman first loaded impeachment earlier this week saying "if the president is allowed to suspend constitutional rights on his own personal whims, our free republic has effectively creased to exist." dana milbank writes in the washington post that stockman was once considered too radical for congress, which is why he only served one term in the mid 1990s, but he is not too crazy for this congress. as milbank notes, "what's frightening is that stockman no longer sounds like an outliar." with reactionary statements that seem at times unhinged from reality, congressman stockman fits in just fine. >> our founding fathers were very concerned about having a separation of powers. they didn't want to let the president become a king. >> i'm afraud that president obama may have this king complex
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sort of developing, and we're going to make sure it doesn't happen. >> maria theresa, it's like, you know, i feel like i -- we played a little bit of sound from rachel maddow last night, my distinguished colleague. she floats the theory that this is part of the strategy is just raise the hackles of liberals, of the media and get them to sort of pay attention to the nonsincere spewing, and really there's no idealogical basis for it. it's not that really rahn paul thinks that president obama is acting like a king, but it's certainly a way of getting attention out there. >> it's a way of getting attention, but it's showing that you are on the losing side of the battle. how do you make sure that you can actually get the extreme right to be all fired up, and that was what they were able to do so effectively when it came to obama care. remember killing granny? they went to the extreme right. the problem right now what's happening that the nra is facing is that their membership doesn't reflect their leadership. their membership is moderate on this issue and believes we should be having some sort of
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gun control, but the leadership is increasingly looked at as a hate group, and that's where they have to be careful. >> glen, i think there is a little bit of false influencing going on, and i was talking to you about quinton terrintino during the break, and there's a notion that you have to blame both sides, which isn't to say both sides have not said questionable things and there haven't been questionable allegations, but i think it's really hard to say that the outcry from the right, which is to say calls for impeachment of the president, calling him a fascist, comparing him to hitler and stalin is being matched by outrage on the left, which is to say progressives who are angry about the nra or any sort of cutback or sensoring of hollywood. >> i love jackie brown. i was just thinking about jackie brown. look, i think this is great.
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money cannot buy anything as fantastic as that flee circus, right? they are not doing their own cause a great service. we saw this on the fiscal cliff. the extremity of the language and the fact that the house couldn't pass something because a group of people on the right in the house didn't want it passed compromised john boehner in getting a better deal for their side. i think it's the same thing here. when you have wayne la pierre and david keene saying these crazy things, it compromises the negotiating position of people who do have an argument against certain restrictions. >> do you agree with that, meagan? >> i think there's a great theory called the baptist and -- where you have on the one hand the bootleggers love prohibition because it's great for business, and the baptists like prohibition because they're idealogically against it. >> it's great for your business. >> for the nra, look, this is how they fundraise.
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i guarantee that letter brought money pouring in. if you have seen what has happened to the gun market since newtown, you can't get high capacity magazines for love or money. i have not tested this personally, but i hear. guns are flying off the shelves. it's true that they don't do themselves a lot of good with the american public. >> maybe with their own party. that's -- business is different -- i mean, if you are listening to glen's point, and i only sort of listen to every other word, but the notion is they have to bargain over this. >> it's good for the nra, right, and -- >> right. >> it's not even necessarily -- this is always -- there's always attention. >> obama was on their -- how many months in a row was obama on the cover of the nra magazine in the past two years? ten of 12 months. >> i'm not a subscriber myself, but it's good for them. maybe bad for their party.
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i'm not sure how bad it is for their issue. again, i think that, like, they've sort of given up on the background checks. they're going to go out, and i don't think that anyone realistically thinks they're going to avoid that. on the kind of marginal issues, i think that what they believe and i think they're correct is that they've got enough people in each state that is going to be very hard for the middle ground democratic senators to come out and do kind of really hard core. >> if it's good for business on the right, though, it is also, to glen's point, political capital for the president. it's also worth noting the brady campaign has gotten $5 million since newtown, which is a doubling of their budget. i mean, they have increased their membership by 100,000. i mean, that is not traditionally been the case after the shootings. it's the sort of the energy has flooded to the nra.
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>> when you see some of the energy that's coming out from the gun control groups, i do think that that is rare, and i do think that that is meaningful. >> i also just think that we talked a lot about the future of the republican party, and we will do so in more detail in the next segment, but if you are trying to appeal to women, to independent voters, to people anywhere outside of these sort of districts in the south and the middle west, it's a -- let's listen to what david keene said about the ar-15. >> the ar-15, which is the semiautomatic weapon, the firearm that's most sold in this country, it's the most used in training and in competition, and in target shooting. in a lot of those cases a lot of ammunition is used and a lot of firing is done, and it's seen as more efficient. >> okay. the argument is it there tl is
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because we are having in competition we need to be as efficient as possible and do you know how long it would take to reload if that magazine was limited to seven bullets? i'm seergs. if you were -- if you were a mom, if you were listening to this, how many -- how is that a rationale excuse for keeping a bushmaster rifle available to people who can go shoot up -- it is then used in school shootings. >> the nra is really missing an opportunity. they should be seen as the gold standard in gun safety, and i think that would actually provide them more to the center. it's not that different from triple-a making sure that you have membership, that you're being represented, what have you. it's not that different. that's not so different with what the nra is saying, you should lock up your guns and making them more reasonable, but to your point about how do you make sure that there is gun safety and that to your point, the nra, their targets -- sure, the membership might be growing, but among which population and demographic? again, they're so closed-minded of where their growth potential
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is. >> glen, you're sighing or you're trying to get in here. >> i think -- i think the. >> there is a broader hearts and minds argument that they are leaving on the table. >> meagan, do you think that moderate people out there, moderate members of the nra, think president obama is trying to do away with the amendment? >> i think there's always this problem with a lot of political issues. in fact, like the brady campaign, i this i that a lot of gun control is what -- strategically, no, we don't want to ban them. we're going tore for reasonable gun control. they know that. they know that the object -- >> who knows that? moderate gun owners. >> i think the gun owners say,
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well, you're going to get ten yards down the field, and, okay, start over. we're going for another ten yards. if you were going to say to people, like, we really want to stop here, and if they actually believed that, you would have a lot -- a fair amount of potential to get more restrictions, but the fact is that they largely don't. it's sort of -- >> based on -- i guess based on what? we can't -- you couldn't appoint -- you can't have a federal records shared among agencies. you can't -- i mean, you can't mention gun violence in florida. >> it's sort of the way that pro choice groups, right, fight any restriction, even modest restrictions because the feeling is, okay, if i give in on parental notification, even if there's a judicial exception, all that means is we're going to get there and we're going to go for the next. >> abortion has been basically outlawed in several states. >> i'm not talking about the rights or the wrongs of the policy issue. >> i'm not either. >> there is actual noouchlt terms of curbing women's access to choice. that is happening. there is nothing touching our nation's gun laws.
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there isn't even the whiff of a suggestion that you may register gun owners or that you may increase background checks. >> sure. pro-choice groups were opposed that stuff for this this very reason before it happened. they were opposed to restrictions precisely because they feared that it could curb access. >> in an interesting turn of events, you think that the gun lobby is taking its cues from the pro-choice -- >> i think liberal issues work this way. you attack. you draw a very hard line. well back of where you would be willing to settle for because you fear that if you shift things a little bit, you start tumbling down the slippery slope, and i think that's really unfortunate because it prevents a lot of good policymaking, and it prevents -- it increases the language and the partisanship and the extremism and makes it very hard to kind of develop common ground because everyone is so afraid that if i give up anything, that doesn't mean that, like, we've settled on a deal, and this is where it stops. that means that this is the inch and you're going take a mile.
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we need to build a whole show around that. it's why i don't let them order less than 50 salamy sand wuchs a day. that means one day they will only order ten and then there will be none. taxes, marriage, or choice. many republicans have displayed a less than willing desire for compromise. what about immigration? we will look at the gop's latest efforts of diversity just ahead. what's next?
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come to walmart and see for yourself. find rollbacks on the contact lenses you want. like the acuvue oasys -- now $27.88. walmart. >> today is day two of the house gop's annual retreat where leaders are attempting to outline the future in colonial williamsburg. on the menu? team building and connecting with the american people. from the highlights yesterday, a presentation from the domino's pizza ceo entitled turning it around, and eight-point presentation from bosom buddies john boehner and eric cantor, entitled planning for the 113th congress and beyond. tonight's lecture self-help guru andy andrews will address sailing above rough seas. immediateless to say, internal divisions within the grp are not expecting making for smooth sailing. the party is addressing its diversity problem with panel
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discussion on successful communication with minorities and women. even some of the parties' own remain skeptical. >> this gop house retreat is pretty fun, so far. as republicans brace themselves for an immigration debate marco rubio focused intently on the year 2016 and it has been pushing the outlines of an imgraugs reform plan. while rubio may be making headway outside washington, he has yet to win over the raucus house caucus where the water is, indeed, choppy. the newly appointed chairman of the house immigration subcommittee is south carolina republican trey gowdy, a fast and furious devoteee who co-sponsored a bill entitled the prohibiting back door amnesty act, supported arizona's highly controversial immigration law, and received an a-minus rating from numbers usa, a group dedicated to reducing the number
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of immigrants entering the united states. joining the panel now is the new yorker's nick baumgartem. i read the names of those scintillating sim posa, and i wonder as we talk about the gop 2.0 or 7.0 or whatever it rags you choose to believe this is, are you convinced that this is anything more than rhetoric? i really don't mean to be baiting the witness. do you believe that the gop wants to change, can change, will change? >> it really does sound like some cross between davos in detox. >> i think it probably is just that. >> you use the word rehab, and like davos or rehab, it will have as much chance of working as either of those two things. i think they're just going to talk and talk and talk. no matter how much they talk, they're not going to change the essential way they go about business. if they make a promise to behave
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differently in the next couple of years it's hard to bring everyone to heal. >> house republicans wanted a volt -- wanted to vote no so they could signal opposition to their own base and protect themselves against a possible primary challenge, but they didn't care enough to actually stop the bill. the unanswered question here is whether they care at all or how much they really care. glen, is this the strategy? basically just register opposition, understand that, yeah, things actually kind of need to get done, whether that's a debt ceiling, whether that's gun control, whether that's immigration, but as long as you're not on record supporting it, you won't be in danger of getting primaried in 2014, and all is well. sdmri think that's a great point that jonathan made there, and i have heard a lot of other reporters who have been talking to people about the debt ceiling and the sequester fights saying we're going down the road of
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doom, the country is going to default. you know, boehner broke the hastert rule once because of larger necessity, and i don't think that doing that makes it any less likely is he going to do that. i really do think these guys as long as they get to take the vote that they want don't really necessarily -- this doesn't stand for all of them, but as a group they don't necessarily care. >> jonathan makes the point that on the sandy relief bill they did the same thing, which was register opposition, pass it with democratic help. i feel like that is sort of under mining short-changes thinking republicans, which is to say can you do this for two years? basically register opposition and then let democrats sort of push the legislation through and not have anybody clued into -- that's what you're doing?
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>> they really care about this. they're not making it up or fake it. they really, really think that it would be better not to raise the debt ceiling, and so what you do is let the democrats on it. we take our republicans and save seats. on things where the leadership is in tune with the base, that's going to be a harder push, because then you're asking someone to vote against their own conscience and against their political interest. >> what happens on immigration? here you actually have "gop leadership." marco rubio is selling his plan to bill o'reilly. we don't have time to play the entire sound, but he talks about getti
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getting. >> you have to know english and be assimilated. >> what does that mean? >> you wait an unspecified amount of time sxushgs don't get access to medicare and social security. there is some kind of plan and some acknowledgment that the 11 million undocumented workers in this country, we can't preserve the status quo. something has to change. is that enough to endear the gop with hispanics, understanding they're not a monolithic vote? >> republican party has an opportunity to overnight change their way towards the white house by winning the latino wroe vote. >> they're all latinos and mixed immigrants, so you're going to have a problem with this constituency at home the next day. if you pass a comprehensive bill, you can actually start ruling the latino community that
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might be on the issue of businesses taxes or what have you. they're always going to have that shadow behind them unless they pass a -- >> you know, what about the trey gowdy's out there. really divisive rhetoric that needs to be muzzled if the gop is going to propose that they are progressive on this issue? >> they want less, fewer immigrants. they've won. the economy has soured, and the political climate has also made it sour. people are leaving. they won on that part. i think the way you start talking about how can you actually win the white house, sure, they can -- the house has all they want. that's because they're going to be going to their base. in order for them to actually mobilize -- >> to be a national party. >> they're going to need to make sure that they pass comprehensive immigration. >> local versus national. the tension continues. we have to leave it there.
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coming up, it's u.s. and its allies are monitoring a hostage situation involving americans in north africa and beyond the standoff lie new questions about radicalization in the region. we'll have the latest just ahead. i have a cold, and i took nyquil, but i'm still stubbed up. [ male announcer ] truth is, nyquil doesn't unstuff your nose. what? [ male announcer ] alka-seltzer plus liquid gels speeds relief to your worst cold symptoms plus has a decongestant for your stuffy nose. thanks. that's the cold truth!
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tomato basil, potato with bacon... we've got a lot of empty cans. [ male announcer ] progresso. you gotta taste this soup. we've seen it before in iraq and afghanistan. armed conflict followed by government instability giving way to radicalization and often terrorism, and that has likely led to the current hostage swaugs in algeria. >> we condemn in the strongest terms a terrorist attack on bp personnel and facilities in algeria, and we are closely monitoring the situation. unfortunately, the best information we have at this time, as i said, indicates that u.s. citizens are among the
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hostages, but we don't have at this point more details to provide to you. >> we will get the latest details and take a look at the latest front in the growing list of u.s. foreign policy challenges when nbc news foreign correspondent amman joins us on set coming up next. [ male announcer ] where do you turn for legal matters? maybe you want to incorporate a business. or protect your family with a will or living trust. and you'd like the help of an attorney. at legalzoom a legal plan attorney is available in most states with every personalized document to answer questions. get started at legalzoom.com today. and now you're protected.
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the white house is currently monitoring a kidnapping situation. approximately 44 nationals, including an unconfirmed number of americans, were kidnapped wednesday by an al qaeda linked group in retaliation for french air strikes against rebel forces in neighboring mali. speaking from the white house podium this hour white house press secretary jay carney, confirmed that u.s. citizens are involved and said president obama was being briefed regularly on the ongoing situation. he would not address media reports that a rescue attempt by the algerian government this
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morning resulted in casualties among the hostages. joining us now is nbc news foreign krnlt ammanmojadin. usually you are remote on the other side of the world. it is great to have you here. the first thing i want to talk about is sort of this situation at large, which is to say the global implications here. when we talk about al qaeda, when we talk about national security threats from a radicalized jihadist community, we often think the middle east because up until now those have been the power centers, but you hear about mali, and you hear about al qaeda and mali, and that i think is a real wake-up call to people who have not been following the development of al qaeda networks to areas beyond just middle east power centers. >> well, you know, when we take a look back over the past several years, al qaeda in the western part of africa, which includes morocco, libya, algeria, and now mali, it has been on the rise steadily for the past ten years without a doubt. they've become more of a potent force. what we're really seeing is that many of the people who fought in afghanistan, including the man
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who was allegedly behind this operation on the oil installation, fought in afghanistan, came back to algeria, which in itself went through its own kind of internal civil war for several years, but as a result, many of these fighters are really operating in the same way we saw in pakistan, afghanistan. they find large open areas of land, failed states, weak states where they can kind of operate outside the reach of the law, but very close to strategic interests, things that are important. al qaeda, which is also believed to be linked to the benghazi attacks, and now this incident. there's a long list of this pattern of behavior that has indicated they're becoming more potent, more lethal, and more dangerous as a result of the weak and failed states in the western part of africa. >> glen, in terms of the white house on this, you know, with syria, where the situation has not gotten markedly better. there are rumors about whether or not there was a cable detailing the syrian government using chemical weapons on its own people the president has
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drawn a shifting line. what is on his plate in terms of foreign policy is daunting. how much capital does he have to tackle that? he is going to have to deal with it one way or another, and to really draw american attention and resources to what's happening overseas. >> he has drawn a line in the sandstorm, right? >> yeah. >> he doesn't want to get wrapped up in any of this stuff. >> on the french mali intervention that we had some handling with, as i understand. we have kept a fair distance from this, and if you just look at who he appointed as his chief of staff yesterday, dennis mcdonough, from the marshall security council, mcdonough was one of the "dovz" in the nfc who pushed for a smaller footprint in afghanistan. i don't think we're moving -- events might pull us over there, but i don't think we're moving over there.
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>> maybe if you look at the appointment of john brennan, who has been, you know, back and forth. the drone program, and we are now finally actually starting to talk about drones and whether or not they help or hinder america's national security interests. what you hear about anecdotally is that when you have the drone strikes, it is often in the radicalizing people on the ground, as much as it is, you know, sort of saving american blood and treasure. it is definitely a double-eejed sword. >> it's a complicated question. on the one hand you have successes, foreign policy successes, that the white house can crow and say we've done and killed our enemies, and they like to be able to do that. on the other hand, yes, they're making enemies. you're making more enemies. it's perhaps, you know, more of the same problem. it's just worsening the problem. >> amman, the morning times writes the hostage situation in algeria has hutenned concerns that a military intervention could transform militant groups that had once only a regional focus into enemies of the u.s. the backlash might end up being worse than the original threat. what do you make of that?
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>> absolutely. i think what we're learning is that a military solution to these types of problems is not enough. as you just heard, the drones is one possible tool in the arsenal of the american military, but it creates more enemies. it creates more problems. ignoring failed states, not pushing for democracy. you're really creating a breeding ground for more problems for things that we are were just trying to avoid for the past ten years in wars in iraq and afghanistan. >> so we're basically not doing enough at home or doing enough abroad. they say people want to be president of the united states. i really do believe that onions has layers. sometimes it is the worst job in america. that said, we have to leave it there. thank you to the rest of our panel. that is all for now. i'll see you back heem at noon eastern, 9:00 a.m. pacific. andrea mitchell reports is coming up next. what's good for the pot... is even better for the cup. new single serve cafe collections from maxwell house. now available for use in the keurig k-cup brewer.
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